Charlie Haden

The Private Collection

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Bassist Charlie Haden gained his initial fame with the Ornette Coleman Quartet of 1959-1961, developing an innovative style that allowed him to walk the bass and create a forward movement and momentum while not stating a chord structure. Haden worked on other rewarding groups through the years, including his Liberation Music Orchestra, the 1970s Keith Jarrett Quintet, and in Old and New Dreams. His longest running project has been Quartet West, which he formed in 1986. A somewhat nostalgic unit, Quartet West matches Haden with tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts, pianist Alan Broadbent and usually drummer Larance Marable on melodic jazz that often could have been played in 1950s (or at least 1960s) Los Angeles. The two-CD set The Private Collection consists of two rare concerts from early in the group's existence. The first CD, recorded at a club date on Charlie Haden's 50th birthday, has the group (with its original drummer Billy Higgins) playing songs by Pat Metheny, Tony Scott, Miles Davis, Bach (a beautiful rendition of "Etudes"), and Charlie Parker in 1987. The second CD, recorded in 1988 in St. Louis, was a homecoming of sorts for Haden, who had many friends in the audience. The quartet (with Paul Motian on drums) performs numbers by Metheny (a second version of "Farmer's Trust"), Charlie Parker, and Ornette Coleman (a nearly 23-minute rendition of "Lonely Woman") plus "Body and Soul" and two Haden originals. Ernie Watts' tenor flights are consistently full of fire, passion, and intensity. His tone is soulful and distinctive, and Watts' style has his own "sheets of sound." While Haden and the drummers are capable of pulling the music in any direction, pianist Alan Broadbent keeps the proceedings grounded, chordal, and boppish. Although one would not have necessarily predicted this direction for Charlie Haden's music in 1970, it has worked out quite well. This well-recorded two-fer features Haden's Quartet West at its best.

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